Saturday, September 28, 2013

Park-less States

I had this idea a long time ago.

Nearly half of the U.S. States don't have National Parks. I suppose if a law was passed tomorrow requiring all States to have a National Park, these would likely be the nominees. Be forewarned, New England is heavily represented on this list:

Alabama: Gulf State Park. Along with Dry Tortugas in Florida this would be the only other park preserving the beauty of America's Gulf Coast.

Connecticut: Pachaug State Forest. Contains within it a National Natural Landmark, the Pachaug Great-Meadow Swamp which has a concentration of pristine Atlantic White Cedar.

Delaware: Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. This Refuge is a critical ground for Atlantic migratory birds, and also has pre-Revolutionary historic sites.

Georgia: Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. This would be the second largest park protecting swamp and marshland after the Everglades, and is home to numerous threatened and endangered species.

Illinois: Shawnee National Forest. Shawnee is filled with spectacular vistas and attractions from waterfalls to caves, near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

Indiana: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. This would be the second Park to protect an element of the Great Lakes, along with Isle Royal in Michigan.

Iowa: Loess Hills State Forest. Containing a National Natural Landmark, this would be the first Park preserving the loess soil region from the last Ice Age.

Kansas: Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. This would be the first Park dedicated solely to the remaining 4% of the once vast tallgrass prairie.

Louisiana: Kisatchie National Forest. Features numerous rare habitats, including calcareous prairies and hillside seepage bogs.

Maryland: Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex. A series of refuges this Park would showcase numerous endangered plants and vast numbers of wildlife, including bald eagles.

Massachusetts: Cape Cod National Seashore. Encompassing the Atlantic Coastal Pines ecoregion, this Park would also boast a number of historically interesting sites.

Mississippi: De Soto National Forest. This Park would highlight one of the last tracts of preserved Gulf Coast ecosystem in North America, also sheltering numerous endangered species.

Missouri: Ozark National Scenic Riverways. No preexisting Park has been designated to preserve any part of the Ozarks or the Current River, often touted as one of America's finest for boating.

Nebraska: Valentine National Wildlife Refuge. With a mix of tall and mid-grass prairie, this sites encompasses a National Natural Landmark of the unique sand hills ecoregion.

New Hampshire: White Mountains National Forest. Comprising a significant portion of the state, the Park would include three major and diverse regions as well as a large tract of the White Mountains.

New Jersey: Pinelands National Reserve. By combining three State Forests this Park would have both natural and historical draws, from pygmy forests to former blueberry factory towns.

New York: Niagara Falls State Park. Why this isn't yet a Park is unfathomable.

Oklahoma: Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge. A National Natural Landmark, this Parks would serve not only as a critical bird habitat, but also as a unique oasis in the great plains region.

Pennsylvania: Allegheny National Forest. This Park would be uniquely devoted to showcasing the Allegheny Highlands ecoregion.

Rhode Island: Burlingame State Park. Not surprisingly this Park would take the title of 'Smallest National Park' from Hot Springs in Arkansas.

Vermont: Green Mountain National Forest. This vast forest Park would have a total of eight wilderness areas within it's borders, and preserve the northernmost section of the Appalachian Trail.

West Virginia: George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. A combined site, these forests create one of the largest tracts of public land in the U.S. and significant old growth populations.

Wisconsin: Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. This would be the only Park to actually preserve a section of the Mississippi River.

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